PROVO, Utah – BYU women’s basketball defended its way to an 80-64 victory over the Fresno State Bulldogs after recording 10 steals, seven blocks and forcing 13 turnovers on Saturday.
“Fresno State is a very good team and I bet they’ll win the Mountain West or be right there,” said BYU head coach Jeff Judkins. “Tonight, we won this game because of defense. I thought our trapping against their two best players and getting the ball out of their hands was definitely a key tonight.”
The Cougars move to 2-0 on the season after knocking off the Bulldogs who were picked to win the Mountain West Conference this year.
COACH JUDKINS POSTGAME
Shaylee Gonzales and Paisley Harding led the Cougars with 22 points apiece. Gonzales also collected five rebounds, four steals, three assists and two blocks. Harding shot 53.3 percent from the field, two assists and a steal and drained four triples.
Lauren Gustin recorded her second straight double-double with 16 points on 7 of 12 shooting and 13 rebounds, seven of which were offensive boards.
Tegan Graham and Maria Albiero both tallied eight assists in the win and Graham went 2 of 3 from behind the arc.
Haley and Hannah Cavinder got off to a hot start, giving the Bulldogs an early 7-4 lead. Gonzales scored eight of the first 13 points for the Cougars to take an 13-7 lead with 4:36 remaining in the first quarter.
Kaylee Smiler checked into the game and knocked down a three from the left corner the first time she touched the ball as part of a 9-0 BYU run. Fresno State countered the BYU run with a 6-0 run of their own before Harding nailed a pull-up jumper from the right elbow to give the Cougars a three-point lead at the end of the first quarter.
Kaylee Smiler drew an intentional foul on Fresno’s Imani Lacy less than 30 seconds into the second quarter giving the Cougars two free throws and the ball. Harding made both shots from the charity stripe to extending the BYU lead to five with 9:36 left in the second.
The Cougars found Sara Hamson down low for back-to-back buckets before Gonzales found the bottom of the net on consecutive possessions to stretch the lead to double digits for the first time. Gustin scored the next four points for BYU, again on consecutive possessions.
The Cougars take an eight point lead into the halftime break on the back of Gonzales who had 14 points, two rebounds, an assist and three blocks in the first half. Gustin took eight points and 10 boards into halftime.
Harding opened the scoring for the Cougars in the second half hitting her first three of the game and following it up with her second on the next possession.
After giving up a layup in transition and a three on the ensuing possession to the Bulldogs, the Cougars went on a 7-1 run to open up a 16-point lead with 4:31 to play in the third quarter.
Fresno State scored six-straight points to cut the Cougar lead to 10, before BYU finished the quarter on an 8-1 run including Graham’s first three of the game and a Gonzales buzzer beating backdoor cut to give the Cougars a 17-point lead entering the final 10 minutes.
The Cougars opened the fourth quarter with another backdoor layup from Harding to take a 19-point lead.
Fresno State and BYU traded baskets throughout the next five minutes BYU matching each Bulldog run with a run of their own. The Cougars found Graham and Harding on back-to-back possessions to take a 20-point lead, their largest of the game, with 4:16 to play.
BYU would remain in control the rest of the way, winning it 80-64.
The Cougars host Arizona State on Wednesday, Nov. 17 at 11 a.m. at the Marriott Center. The game will be televised on BYUtv.